How do you answer when someone asks, "What do you want first: the good news or the bad news?"
Personally, I always want the bad news first because no matter how good the good news is, the sheer dread of the bad news will keep me from enjoying it. If you hear the bad news first, there is always the hope that the good news will make the bad news a little better.
That's why in this week's blog, we're going to start with the bad news about the state of humanity first.
Are you ready? Brace yourself. Here we go.
You are a sinner.
You were born that way.
You inherited your sinful nature from your parents. It's an inescapable fact for all human beings.
Here's more bad news…there is nothing good about you. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
And it gets even worse…because God is completely holy, He is separated from all evil. Sin literally offends Him. By His very nature, God is separated from sin and sinful humanity.
Because of sin, we are all destined to spend eternity apart from God in Hell. That's really, really bad news.
How did humanity arrive in this desperate state?
Well, once again, we have to go to Genesis.
Turning to Genesis 3, we see that since Creation, Adam and Eve have been living in the Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect. Then one day, Satan came to Eve in the Garden and started playing word games with God's commands so Eve would disobey God.
As we know, Adam and Eve ultimately fell for Satan's lies, and they chose of their own free will to disobey God and eat from the only true God told them to avoid.
With that one act of disobedience, sin entered the world.
From that moment on, everything changed.
Rather than making Adam and Eve "like God" as the serpent promised, sin actually separated human beings from God. Because God is entirely holy and unable to sin, their intimate personal relationship of walking and talking with God in the cool of the evening could no longer continue.
Because God could not risk Adam and Eve gaining immortality by eating from the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve were forced to leave God's perfect Garden.
Through sin, death entered the world along with pain, suffering, a loss of innocence, toil and turmoil, and even death.
Sin changed everything…for everyone.
Sin is still a reality for us today.
As descendants of Adam and Eve, each one of us is born with a sinful nature.
Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Because of sin, we are all destined to die.
That's the bad news.
Now, are you ready for some hope?
Here it is: Romans 5:12-19 says,
"You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death.
That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses.
So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God.
But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do!
There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift.
The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence.
If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, absolute life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right." (The Message)
Because of God's infinite goodness and love, He could not allow all of humanity to be left in sin and separated from Him because of sin.
To provide a way for man to be forgiven of their sins and become a new creature in Christ, God sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth to live as a man and pay the penalty for the world's sins.
Through Christ's work on the cross, humans can be forgiven of their sins, delivered from sin's bondage, and walk in freedom from sin in their lives. Rather than suffer the punishment sin deserves in eternity, those who accept Christ as their Savior can now spend their eternity in Heaven with God.
So, yes, Adam and Eve's sin of disobedience ended their perfect world and left us without hope.
However, Christ's obedience and death on the cross also ended life as man knew it. He conquered sin and death and opened wide the door of opportunity for men and women to have their relationship with God.
It was an incredible sacrifice that changed the world forever.
That's the good news.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life. When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."